You’ve stumbled here either because you’ve been thinking of starting a blog for a while, or maybe you’ve started one recently and are feeling 100% lost. (Don’t worry, there are days where I still feel lost). When I moved to Seattle and really started putting in the work and time that my blog needed to expand, I started noticing that I was gaining more followers and more brands were reaching out. That also meant that a lot of friends and other bloggers started asking for my advice on their blogs. I’m going to disclaimer at this point that I am by no means an expert. However, it is just recently that I’ve felt that I’ve reached a point where I’m starting to feel like I know what I’m doing. And because it wasn’t too long ago that I was a newbie, I felt that it would be a good time to provide some advice. So let’s hop right in!
Before you click “create” on WordPress/Blogger/WIX
I know, the excitement of starting a blog is well…starting. Creating a new site and writing a new post. But before you even get there, you need to start by asking yourself some questions:
- What do you plan to talk about? Are you focusing on fashion, travel, lifestyle… there are so many niches!
- How can you differentiate yourself? Let me give you an example – there are a million “fashion bloggers” out there. Everyone is posting about latest trends. So the best way to grow is to differentiate yourself. What is your niche? I will say that it is just recently that I realized that my niche should be aimed at merging corporate life with my love of fashion and travel.
- What are you going to call your blog? This one is one of the hardest in my opinion. This may take weeks to figure out. I recommend bouncing ideas off friends until you figure out what works for you. The name should automatically tell your audience what your blog is about. *Note: I’ve been noticing that it is becoming more common for people to just use their name as their site. That’s always an option too!*
- What is your aesthetic going to be like? Start thinking about what type of color scheme you want to use, designing your header, and your logo. (just some basics, more aesthetic planning will come once your start your blog)
- How much time can you dedicate to this? I think this question is one of the most important ones. If you know you’re only going to have an hour a week to dedicate to your blog, then it’s probably unreasonable to expect posting 2-3 days a week. Set real expectations.
I’m a pen and paper type of gal. If you are too, I would recommend buying a designated calendar & notebook for your blog where you can write ideas down and brainstorm. (Hack: Your local Marshall’s/ Ross/ TJ Maxx will have some gorgeous options for a reasonable price!)
Once you’re ready to begin
Once you have your ideas organized, it’s time to actually create. There are quite a few platforms out there. This article compares WordPress and Blogger and it’s worth a read. I’ve been a WordPress gal since the beginning so I can’t really unbiasedly comment on the others. But I will argue that those two are by far the most popular due to how easy they are to run. Once you decide on which platform, here are a few tips to get you off the ground:
- Buy the domain name! They run around $15-$18 per year and I think automatically elevate your site. You also never know, someone might grab the domain in the meantime and you’ll be stuck. Better safe than sorry 🙂
- Don’t go with the premium theme. WordPress has a bunch of free theme options for your site, as well as some that are paid. For starting out, I don’t think the $40-$100 is worth it. There are plenty of great themes to choose from that won’t cost you anything. Especially since you may be unsure of how long you’ll even be blogging! That being said, do spend some time checking out the live demos to see what goes with your content. You can always change it later, but it’s good to be consistent, so you don’t want to greet your readers with a new site every time they visit!
- Writing content. Before you go running to everyone you know and sending them the link to your blog, make sure you have a few things done. Namely – the About Me section, the Contact section, and a few posts. You don’t want to greet people with a blank page.
**Note: if you’re totally confused at this point, especially around how to even use whatever blog platform you have selected, Google is your BFF. Youtube has some really great basic videos you can find that will guide you through the basics of starting a blog.
In my opinion, creating content falls into two big buckets – photography and writing. Let me be completely honest – you could be the next J.K. Rowling, but the reality is that without high quality photos your content will be lost.
- Photography. Don’t worry, I’m not about to go tell you to spend thousands on a camera. Luckily, technology has advanced and you can create high-quality content without the price tag. For under $200, there is the Nikon CoolPix Digital Camera. If you want to spend a little more, the Canon Rebel T6 is under $500. Editing: I’m a big fan of the VSCO & Snapseed Apps for photo editing. They’re low cost options. If you want to up your professionalism, subscribe to Adobe’s Photoshop or Lightroom.
- Writing. I probably don’t have to say this (but I will), make sure to proof-read! There’s nothing worse than spelling errors. Also, the best posts are those between 400-600 words.
I like to make a calendar for the month to plan out my content. It’s great to note what holidays are coming up too, so that you can create holiday-relevant content. I also write post ideas in my notebook (it comes with me everywhere!) since you never know when inspiration might strike.
The Social Media Aspect
Nowadays being a blog isn’t just about having a blog – it’s also about your social media presence. Before you go out and create accounts for everything from Twitter to Vine (is Vine still even around?), let’s discuss a few things.
- Quality over quantity. You’re starting a blog and unless you’re making this your full-time job, you’re not going time to built quality accounts on every popular platform. Pick 2-3 that you really want to focus on start there. When I started, I decided to focus primarily on Instagram. I then added Facebook, and more recently, Pinterest.
- Having personal & professional accounts. When I started with Instagram I had a personal account and a blogger one. Let me just say that both suffered because who can seriously do a good job of running 2 accounts at once?! Eventually I merged them into one, and that’s when I started seeing growth.
- Look & Feel: The look and feel of your social media platforms should go with the look & feel of your blog. Everything should be woven together – you don’t want each platform to look like a different person!
Another big question I get is “what apps do you use for x?” Below is a list of what I recommend:
For photo-editing :
- VSCO (free) – has some great filters, and is great for keeping one “aesthetic” on your Instagram
- Snapseed (free) – also has some great filters, but allows you to make more specific changes for tone, saturation, etc.
- Facetune ($3.99) – basically an easier version of photoshop. I love it for things like editing blemishes. Just be careful not to over-edit since it can become quite obvious!
- Lightroom & PS Express Apps (free w/ subscription) – you need to have an Adobe id in order to use the apps associated to their desktop versions. The apps are much easier than their bigger counterparts. I would only invest in this if you’re really into editing your own pictures and if you want to advance past the Snapseed/VSCO basics.
- Preview (free) – allows you to plan out your instagram feed and see how it will look before you post an image
- Instatrack (free) – allows you to see who has followed/ unfollowed you
This post was created in collaboration with Pinup Darling for the blouse, and Karya Schanilec Photography for the photos.
That’s all for now! I love hearing from you – what other questions or suggestions do you have?